Superfund Research Program
Research Experience and Training Coordination Core
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Project Summary (2020-2025)
Investigations of environmental and health implications of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) require an integration of numerous expertise, including knowledge in multiple scientific disciplines, methodologies in data science, and skills in community engagement. Current pre- and postdoctoral preparations for addressing such complex problems are typically insufficient because of limited training in interdisciplinary research, lack of formal data management and analysis skills, and limited opportunities for real engagement with affected communities. The broad mission of the Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC) is to train all of the Center’s pre- and postdoctoral trainees (10 per year) to be future leaders and outstanding scientists capable of conducting high-impact research, independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team, to solve the PFAS problem and similar complex environmental and health problems. In coordination with the activities of the PFAS research projects, the Data Management and Analysis Core (DMAC), the Core of Advanced Platform Technologies Used for Remediation and Exploration (CAPTURE), and the Community Engagement Core (CEC), RETCC is developing and implementing a comprehensive program for the trainees to become fluent across disciplines, technologies, and communities. An aim of the program is to provide trainees with cross-training and fluency across disciplines, technologies, and communities through diverse research experiences, nanocourses to cover the relevant disciplines, data management and analysis modules, multidisciplinary seminars and journal clubs, and engagement with communities affected by PFAS. The program also includes professional and career development training by creating opportunities to work across disciplines as part of a multidisciplinary team addressing PFAS-related problems and to interact with engineers, epidemiologists, biologists, regulatory policy scientists, and community engagement professionals. Individual Development Plans serve as evaluation and career development tools. This training program involves authentic learning; focus on real-world, PFAS-related projects; the opportunity to build communication skills and increase fluency across disciplines; and integration of the trainees into the team science approach.